What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is one of the most efficient and straightforward methods to see how secure your systems are. Read our article to learn how penetration tests are done.

What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing (also known as the pen test or ethical hackin****g) is a network security service that aims to test the strengths and detect the vulnerabilities of a network system.

Penetration tests employ a wide array of different methods and aim to find the weaknesses of the security measures taken. Moreover, penetration tests includes trying to exploit the detected vulnerabilities in order to see if they are indeed real vulnerabilities that need to be addressed and/or alleviated.

Penetration tests aim to find any kind of vulnerabilities including but not limited to software bugs, design errors and configuration errors.

Penetration analyses provide very important information and valuable insights. Moreover, they allow the cyber security professionals to prepare for potential threats. Two different mechanisms constitute a proper and thorough penetration analysis: Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing.

Penetration testing is a proactive method of cyber security that allows organizations to prevent security threats. That is why it is a very important network security service that should be employed by all organizations, regardless of their size.

What are 5 stages of penetration testing?

Penetration tests often consist of five main stages:

  1. Planning and reconnaissance: In this step, the aim of the penetration test is clearly defined. In order to successfully conduct the test and fulfil the goals, necessary intelligence is gathered at this step as well.
  2. Scanning: In this step, various scanning tools are employed in order to understand how the target responds to attacks. Both static and dynamic analysis can be done.
  3. Gaining Access: This step involves the use of web application attacks like backdoors and SQL injection. The aim is unveiling the vulnerabilities of the target, that is why the testers attempt to exploit any weaknesses of the target.
  4. Maintaining Access: In this step, the aim is to test whether the exploited vulnerability grants persistent access. The idea here is trying to imitate advanced persistent threats which are known for their sinister ability to be present in a system for prolonged periods of time so that the attackers can steal important information from the target.
  5. Analysis: The most important step of a penetration test is analysis step where the results of the test are compiled into a detailed report. This report includes which vulnerabilities were exploited, which sensitive data was accessed and how long the pen tester managed to be present in the systems without being noticed.

What are the methods of penetration testing?

There are various different methods of penetration testing.

External Testing: This method targets the external assets of an organization, such as the web application, e-mail servers and the web site itself.

Internal Testing: This method aims to mimic a malicious attacker from inside the organization.

Blind Testing: In this method, only the name of the enterprise is given to the tester.

Double Blind Testing: In this method, the cyber security professionals of the organization are not notified of a penetration test.

Targeted Testing: In this method, both the attacker and the cyber security team notifies each other on the actions they take.

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